"I am the type of Star Wars fan that doesn't even have a favorite movie. I just want to live in the universe of Star Wars continually, in perpetuity, forever. So when people are like, 'What's your favorite Star Wars movie?' I'm like, 'There is no Star Wars movie; there is only Star Wars.'"
―Leslye Headland[2]

Leslye Headland is the creator and executive producer of The Acolyte, a 2024 mystery thriller television series set in the High Republic Era. A long-time Star Wars fan, Headland combined her love for George Lucas' movies, novels from both the Expanded Universe and current canon, and Hong Kong martial arts and Akira Kurosawa samurai films in writing and producing The Acolyte.


"I think it just meant so much to me because it was a place to live, a place to escape to. Not just the media, but… George [Lucas] had given you enough signposts that it's almost like Narnia. You could just go [into the Star Wars galaxy] and live there. And then you just have to come out of the wardrobe at some point and go to class."
―Leslye Headland, interviewed by Kristin Baver[3]

After co-creating the 2019 television series Russian Doll, for which she received two Emmy Award nominations,[1] Leslye Headland attended the premiere of the 2019 film Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker. When asked by a reporter if she had plans to work on a Star Wars film, Headland responded that she had been thinking of ideas for new Star Wars movies since she was a child.[2] Her first experience of Star Wars was watching the Special Edition releases of the original trilogy (1997) and reading Expanded Universe novels such as Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire (1991). Star Wars was a place of escape for Headland, who compared George Lucas' galaxy far, far away to the realm of Narnia created by author C. S. Lewis in the 1950s.[3]

On May 4, 2020, an article on StarWars.com announced that Headland was developing a Star Wars television series for Disney+ and serve as a writer, executive producer, and showrunner.[1] On December 10, 2020, it was revealed that it would be a mystery thriller focusing on "emerging dark side powers" in the waning days of the High Republic Era.[4] The Acolyte's trailer premiered on March 19, 2024, ahead of its release on June 4 that year.[3]


Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, and Leslye Headland

Headland was inspired by wuxia martial arts and samurai films, such as King Hu's Hong Kong Shaw Brothers film Come Drink with Me (大醉俠) (1966) and the Japanese Akira Kurosawa films Yojimbo (用心棒) (1961)[3] and Rashomon (羅生門) (1950), particularly for the latter's use of differing interpretations of the same events. Headland's first produced television script in 2010's Terriers was directed by Rian Johnson, whom Headland admired for his calmness as a director.[5]

The showrunner aimed to explore the duality of the "underdog" versus the "institution" beyond good and evil, with the Jedi Order as the institution in The Acolyte.[3] Aside from Lucas' films, the television series The Clone Wars,[5] and current canon books such as those from The High Republic publishing initiative, Headland also incorporated significant elements from the old Expanded Universe, now known as the Star Wars Legends continuity, while maintaining the story as easily understood by audiences who are unfamiliar with the relevant material. The showrunner is especially keen on introducing a half-Theelin, half-human Jedi, Padawan Jecki Lon, and showing a much older Vernestra Rwoh, a Jedi who was introduced in The High Republic books as a teenager.[3]



Year Title Contribution Format
2024 The Acolyte logo Celebration The Acolyte — "Lost / Found" Director, writer, executive producer TV episode[6]
2024 The Acolyte logo Celebration The Acolyte — "Revenge / Justice" Director, executive producer TV episode[7]
2024 The Acolyte logo Celebration The Acolyte — "Destiny" Executive producer TV episode[8]
2024 The Acolyte logo Celebration The Acolyte — "Day" Executive producer TV episode[9]
2024 The Acolyte logo Celebration The Acolyte — "Night" Executive producer TV episode[10]
2024 The Acolyte logo Celebration The Acolyte — "Teach / Corrupt" Writer, executive producer TV episode[11]
2024 The Acolyte logo Celebration The Acolyte — "Choice" Executive producer TV episode[12]


Notes and references

External links